Block Grants



Since 1966, blockgrants continue to be associated with the American Federal System.Block grants are one of the three types of grants: block grants,categorical grants, and revenue sharing grants (Bragg, 2013, p. 34).These grants differ based on three dimensions: the federal controlrange over whom to receive the grants, the recipient discretion rangeover added activities, and the number, type, scope, detail of thegrants program situation.

Block grants are agrant-in-aid program that the federal government uses towardsproviding for both the state and local government a particular amountof funding to help them with handling broad purposes, for example,social services, community development, law enforcement, or publichealth. Although legislation, according to Bragg (2013, p. 34),details the parameters of the program, the state, and localgovernments are provided with typical flexibility in using fundsrequired towards meeting fewer administrative functions under othergrants. Mikesell (2013, p. 621) noted that there are currently 20funded block grants, which totals 50.8 billion dollars in the fiscalyear 2012, but is less than 10% of the total federal grants aidassistance.

Block grantadvocates tend to view block grants as a way of increasing governmenteffectiveness and program efficiency through redistribution of powerand accountability through partial devolution and decentralization ofdecision-making authority from the state to the federal and localgovernments. The block grants are also viewed as a means forreduction of government expenditures without having to sacrificegovernment services (Bragg, 2013, p. 35). For example, Bragg (2013,p. 35) observed that the chair of the Budget House Committee,Representative Paul Ryan, recommended that the Medicaid share fromthe federal government be turned into block grants. Therecommendation is meant to meet the state`s needs as a way to improvethe safety net health care for the low-income-earners NativeAmericans, and thus saving over $730 billion over a decade (Bragg,2013, p. 35).

Block grants,unlike other types of grants, are always at the midpoint in therecipient discretion continuum. The native America, especially thefederal administrators, has low discretion degree over whom to begiven the block grants after putting aside Administration funding andother activities. The remaining funds are automatically allocated tothe recipients through formula(s) specified in the legislation.

Also, recipients are known to have discretion that concerns theseactivities. According to Mikesell (2013, p. 622) these activities aremade possible by typical funds used for specified activities withinthe specific area of specificity. There are also moderate federaladministrative degrees attached to the block grant. The block grantsin this situation typically involve more than reporting criteria overstandard government application for the accounting procedures.However, grants with these fewer conditions are attached to it morethan other grants.

Accountability provisions, according to Bragg (2013, p. 37), weremade for the Native Americans are practically made for the inceptionoffered with pragmatic flexibility within a range of few activities.The Native Americans are made to study few on-study programs overtime. Over time, block grants are over time re-categorized since theCongress is often chosen within the limited state and the localgovernment with programmatic flexibility while imposing additionalreporting and administrative requirements.

In Native America, the Congress has an important role in shaping thenature and scope of the overall federal grants-in-aid provisionsystem. In its legislative, yet deliberative role, it is the Congressthat determines objectives that allow grant mechanism towardsachieving set objectives. Mikesell (2013, p. 623)noted that block grants mechanism is well-suited to thecreation of legislation, which exercises oversight to holding theadministration accountable for block grants implementation.

Towards the availability of block grants determinant, the followingcriteria are followed:

  • The eligibility limited to both local and state governments, and not non-governmental or foreign organizations,

  • Program funding is typically distributed by use of the formula described based on regulations or legislation, and

  • Different categorical programs that target funds for the specific activity, undertaken recipients at their discretion, some activities, and broad functional categories towards addressing the Native American`s objectives.

According toMikesell (2013, p. 625), critics argue that block grants are likelyto undermine the national objectives` achievements and can be used asa reversal to reduce government rate of spending on all domesticissues. The critics argue that the block grants are used by thefederal government as a form of in-aid grant. The nature of the blockgrants makes it difficult to measure the performances and also holdthe state and senior government officials accountable for theirdecisions.

In conclusion,advocates for the block grants argue that the United States` federaladministrators are frequently out of reach with the grassrootsdemands and priorities, while the local and state governments arecloser to the Native Americans with issues to design their provisionsthan the federal administrators. Block grants advocate strongly forthe flexibility that is afforded with the local and state under theblock grants program. This also allows them to experiment and come upwith new approaches towards solving governmental challenges. However,the program may not be possible, especially when the funding is madethrough restrictive grants.


Bragg, S. M. (2013). Accounting best practices. Hoboken, N.J:John Wiley &amp Sons.

Mikesell, J. L. (2013). Fiscal administration: Analysis andapplications for the public sector. Chicago, Ill: Dorsey Press.9th Ed. pp. 621-625 Retrieved from